Alcoholism is a term broadly encompassing problems with alcohol, and generally means compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages. This affects the drinker’s health, personal relationships, and social standing. Medically it is considered a disease, an addictive illness. “Alcohol abuse” or “alcohol dependence” in psychiatry are associated with Alcoholism. Over 20 million people in US are suffering from alcoholism as per statistics by National Institute of Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism.
The difference between joy drinking and alcoholism is that a person suffering from alcoholism cannot function normally without the regular consumption of alcohol. The dependence or addiction could be psychological or physical or both. In severe cases and after prolonged use, it is likely to be physical dependence. Alcoholism is problematic because of several reasons, not only is it detrimental to the patient’s health, but it also affects those around him/her, destroying families and communities, and causing high amounts of psychological stress.
Alcoholism does not have one specific cause, but is rather derived from genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors. The signs and symptoms of alcoholism are many and may vary, some of the most frequent are:
- Inability to limit the amount of alcohol you are drinking.
- Irresistible urge to drink
- Need more alcohol to affect you
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Nausea, sickness, discomfort when you are not drinking
- Presence of black-outs, forgetfulness
- Hide alcohol around the house or in the car or workplace
- Drink with the intention of becoming drunk
- Lose of interest in anything besides drinking
The process of becoming addicted to alcohol usually occurs gradually. Over time, drinking too much influences the brains chemistry, and leads to imbalances in the pleasure-giving and self-control mechanism. This leads to some normal functions being bound to alcohol, and a need to drink to keep functioning normally.
Alcohol affects various parts of our body. It interfere brain communication signals and disrupts its functioning. Body coordination and motor function is seriously affected. It impacts heart through high blood pressure, irregular beating of heart or stretching of heart muscles. Most impact of alcohol in body is to liver. It may results in liver function and results in cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis or liver damage. It may also impact your functioning of pancreas and may cause its inflammation. Alcohol increases risks of cancer in body. Alcohol reduces immunity and makes you prone to various diseases. It interferes in body digestive system and can cause malnutrition. Dehydration as result of alcohol is common.
Home remedies for alcoholism
Treatment of alcoholism starts at home
Support of family members and loved ones is extremely important. For severe cases, detox clinics and recovery centers may be recommended. Some more light cases might try some home remedies and nutritional changes to detox and help with the alcohol abstinence.
Nutritional changes for alcohol detox
Nutritional changes to help with alcohol addiction. People suffering from alcohol addiction are usually malnourished and have several deficiencies, in addition to damages to their bodies, like liver and stomach damage. Nutritional therapy attempts to reduce these symptoms and help with the abstinence crisis while helping repair damaged organs.
Sugars and carbohydrates should be prevalent in the diet of a recovering alcoholic. Minimum 60% of their diet should consist of carbohydrates. Although it is contra intuitive, protein should be avoided during recovery, not completely, but protein should not make up for more than 25% of a recovering alcoholics diet. That is because the liver of a recovering alcoholic is most likely damaged and not fully functional, and a high protein diet puts oxidative stress on the liver, since excess protein is filtered by the liver. In a normal person that would not be a problem, but recovering alcoholics liver needs a period of respite to properly regenerate. An ideal diet for a recovering alcoholic would be high in carbohydrate, preferably whole grains like buckwheat, whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and low in protein, with major sources of protein being fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Fat should be limited as well, and healthy, polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh fruit and vegetables are very important in a recovering alcoholic’s diet. They contain a lot of antioxidants that can help clear the body of excess free radicals created by the alcohol consumption as well as by oxidative stress caused by alcohol remission.
Dietary highlights for a recovering alcoholic
Alcohol can severely damage the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, so during the recovery some nutrients should be taken in greater doses to make up for the losses and treat malnutrition. Except for being malnourished, alcoholics usually lack vitamins and minerals. Alcoholism also leads to higher concentrations of free-radicals in the body, which damage tissues and DNA and can lead to mutations and potentially cancer. Nutritional therapy for alcoholism should include more anti-oxidants to prevent the build-up of free radicals.
Vitamin B complex – Thiamin: A recovering alcoholics diet should be very rich in vitamin B, especially vitamin B1, Thiamin. It is very important in synthesizing the neurotransmitter acetyl-holine, which is essential to the normal functioning of the brain. Thiamin helps a recovering alcoholic by making sure that the brain functions optimally and that protein and amino acids are handled properly in the body, which puts less stress on the liver and allows it to regenerate. Foods rich in thiamine are wheat germ, beans, barley, sunflower seeds and oats.
Folate – Folate is essential to many metabolic processes. Folate deficiencies symptoms are general weakness, numbness of the limbs, nerve damage, mental confusion and pregnancy problems.
Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 is very important in the sugar metabolism as it converts glycogen from the liver into glucose. Deficiencies of vitamin B6 can cause several forms of neuropathy, or diseases of the nervous system.
Magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese – A recovering alcoholic’s diet should also be full with minerals, especially magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Magnesium and phosphorus are essential to the functioning of every living being known to man. They play many important roles in maintaining normal cell and organ functions. Zinc is very important to the normal functions for the normal functions of the brain and immune system. Manganese, although needed in small amounts, is an important part of nutrition and plays roles in activating enzymes and ensuring normal protein functions on the body. Alcoholics bodies often suffer from electrolyte disbalance, caused by increased oxidative stress and increased need to urinate caused by alcohol, which depletes the bodies normal electrolyte reserves.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E or tocopherol is a very powerful antioxidants, it prevents reactive free radicals from causing damage to tissues and DNA. It also plays important roles in protein regulation and proper functioning of the nervous system.
Natural compounds that help treat alcoholism
Herbs that influence a mildly sedates state are also very useful for treating alcohol addictions. Some of these are listed below:
Kudzu – This Chinese herb kudzu (Pueraria lobata) has been found by Harvard scientists to decrease the need to consume alcohol. The effect was rapid—within 90 minutes after taking kudzu extract capsules. It reduces side effects of alcohol including hangover, thirst and others.
Silymarin – Silymarin is a powerful antioxidant. It helps regulate blood sugar and helps with liver functions, which are both impaired in alcohol addicts. It should be taken when recovering from alcoholism.
Amla – Amla aids Liver function and protection. It has been used in Ayurveda as liver tonic and is used in treatment of hepatitis and cirrhosis. It is useful in rehabilitation of alcoholic people. It works as great antioxidant and animal studies showed that it reduces alcohol induced oxidative stress.
St. John’s Wort – This herb has antidepressant effects and reduces alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It deters urge for alcohol and effective in treatment of alcoholism. It prevents relapse in recovering alcoholic patients.
Iboga – This African herb contains alkaloid called ibogaine which is psychoactive and can treat addictions. It acts on brain receptors and reduces alcohol cravings. While large doses of Iboga can be lethal, it is used for its anti-addiction properties. Iboga is restricted drug in many countries.
Passionflower —Passiflora incarnata contains various phytochemcials which have impact on functioning of brain. It helps in reducing anxiety and spasms. This herb has been used for deaddiction of narcotic drugs and alcohol. Drug removal symptoms are often elevated anxiety and restlessness and these increases urge for the addict to go back to drug or alcohol. Passiflora provides relief from such symptoms, helps calming nerves and sleeping problems.
Angelica– It reduces harmful effects of alcohol and helps create dislike for alcohol. It is good anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic.
Calamus – Another herb which reduces alcohol cravings. Acorus calamus has regenerative effect on brain and nervous system. It improves digestive system disorder due to alcohol. In Ayurveda, Bacha or Vasambu as it is known, is used to counter effects of hallucinogens.
Cayenne pepper – Capsicum frutescens reduces symptoms of alcoholism like nausea and vomiting. It reduces desire for alcohol, reduces anxiety and induces sleep. It is ood anti-inflammatory herb.
Hops – While major use of hops is in manufacture of beer, it contains chemical which is used for treatment of anxiety and restlessness, generally associated with alcoholism.
Khella – Extract of dried, ripe fruit bears chemical khellin which is diuretic. In Ayurveda it is believed to provide relief from symptoms of alcohol. It has properties to widen blood vessels and treat dizziness, headache, gastrointestinal disorders and nausea.
Milk Thistle or Silybum marianum – is used in treatment of liver diseases including damage by alcohol. Silymarin in this herb is strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Ginseng – It speeds up metabolism and helps in breakdown of alcohol. It is good to detox body from alcohol.
Oats– Avena sativa are considered good in reducing impact of alcohol on body. It helps in proper functioning of brain and heart.
Quassia or Picrasma excels – helps in relieving from side effects of alcohol. It tones body digestive system and increases appetite.
Schisandra – Schisandra berries just like Amla possess all five basic flavors and widely used in Chinese medicine form. It is effective in treatment of aggression, depression. As liver tonic, it also reduces inflammation and affects nervous system. Omija cha or Korean tea made from schisandra berries is useful in treating alcoholism.
Wild Lettuce – Lactuca virosa has sedative properties and relives anxiety. It helps in treating symptoms of alcoholism.
Wasabi – As vegetable it has benefits for liver. It contains isothiocyanates which promotes liver health and detoxifies liver.
Lotus root – Lotus root has antioxidant and detoxifying effect on liver and kidney. Ancient Chinese herbal medicines use lotus root to treat liver cirrhosis.
Triphala Churna – It helps in functioning of liver and digestive system. It protects body from carcinogenic damage to liver. It stimulates regeneration of damaged liver cells.
Sea Buckthorn berry – Study has shown benefits of seabuckthorn for liver and damage from toxic chemicals. It normalizes secretion of liver enzymes and reduces liver inflammation. Thus it helps in treatment of alcoholism and its side effects.
Spirulina – This algae has benefits for liver. It slows down lipid peroxidation and prevents the accumulation of triglycerides in the liver. It protects liver from harmful effects of heavy metals like mercury and lead and reduces liver inflammation.
Moringa – Moringa tea and moringa juice has been considered having curative effects on liver disorders. Research shows that moringa helps in removal of hepatoxins from the body and reverse the damage by these hepatoxins. Moringa has been considered effective on hepatitis, cirrhosis, and metabolic liver disease due to alcohol and drug use.
Chlorophyll – Chlorophyll as supplement is helpful in detoxifying liver. It has been considered that by increasing oxygen in the blood stream, chlorophyll helps to cleanse your body and remove the toxic substances from liver.
Curry leaves – They are wonderful antioxidants and protect liver from damage by alcohol. Curry leaves can prevent liver diseases like hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Beet Root – Betalin pigments in beet helps in cleasing of the body. It helps get rid of alcohol. It protects liver from excess alcohol and helps heal liver diseases.
Gymnema – It possess hepatoprotective properties and is tonic for liver. Palliyar tribals in Sirumalai hills of India, use gymnema leaves for treatment of jaundice and liver diseases.
Bananas – It provides rich source of electrolytes lost due to consumption of alcohol. It plays important role in transmission of nerve impulse and helpful over alcoholism.
Apple– They are believed to reduce craving for alcohol. They also help in removing toxins from body and offer dose of electrolyte needed by alcoholic.
Dates– Dates are natural food for treating alcoholism. Regular consumption of dates would reduce inclination towards alcohol.
Lemon and Honey – Combination of lemon and honey in lukewarm water has been long used in treating hangover. They offer body with dose of antioxidants and electrolyte helpful in reducing side effects of alcohol.
Cumin Seeds – They are stimulant and helps in digestive process. They also offer relaxant properties and helps induce sound sleep and reduce anxiety associated with alcohol withdrawal.
Camu camu berry – This South American berry is natural anti-depressant. Along with rich source of Vitamin C they offer managing mood swings, increase brain function, reduce stress and protect body from free radicals. They have been considered anti hepatic and used in treating liver diseases.
Physical Exercise: Meditation, yoga and other physical exercises works wonders in treatment of alcoholism. Not only does it enhances body and mind function, but also keeps you fit and healthy.
Water – Water works wonder in any detoxification process. Drinking plenty of water reduces dehydration caused by alcohol and cleanse yours body.
Try out these home remedies for alcohol addiction and help your friend or relative from harmful effects of alcohol. Your support would work wonders for them.